The Berenstain Bears'
Big Bedtime Book
by Stan & Jan with Mike Berenstain


Stan and Jan Berenstain's The Berenstain Bears' Big Bedtime Book
illustrated by Mike Berenstain

Book review by Heidi Helms

Ages 4-8

Six Berenstain versions of famous fairy tales

Why do Brother and Sister Bear not fuss when Papa and Mama Bear go out?  It is because of their one of a kind, talented and all around best babysitter, Mrs. Grizzle. 

Not only can she take great care of the cubs, play their favorite games, and help them to cook in the kitchen, but she also tells the best stories.

Brother and Sister get ready for bed, while Mrs. Grizzle puts Baby Honey in her crib downstairs.  Not all nights end the same, but all nights end with a story from Mrs. Grizzle.

The Berenstain Bears' Big Bedtime book features 6 classic fairy tales, each with a Berenstain spin.Here's the general layout. Expect perhaps a slightly larger text-to-picture ratio than in the average Berenstain book.

Brother and Sister Bear both value all the extra things that happen once Baby Honey is put to bed.  Whether it is a simple story or baking cookies, Mrs. Grizzle knows how to keep them feeling special.  Sometimes the cubs participate in the storytelling.  Sometimes Mrs. Grizzle seems to enjoy the participation, while other times, she seems to discourage it. 

Before each story is a short introduction that provides the setting. Below are the stories included:

The Three Cubs and the Big Bad Pig

Here's the story of three little cubs that needed to leave their mother and build their houses.  While there are definitely similarities in each story to the original fairy tales, the differences are what keep you reading. 

Two of the cubs were foolish in building their houses, while the third used better judgement just as in ‘The Three Little Pigs.'  The story unfolds to teach a few simple lessons and works out for all the animals involved.

Goldibear and the Three People

An adventurous little cub was warned by her mother not to venture beyond the forest because there was a land where the strange and feared People lived. 

Her mother could not tell her why the People were so awful, so Goldibear did what a curious child would do and started exploring. 

After she reached the edge of the forest, her curious nature won out and she explored the little house nearby.

The story followed much like the ‘Three Little Bears’ story, with the twist of how the People responded.  While no one was hurt, the story enforced the importance of the cubs avoiding interaction with these different creatures. 

The concept of stranger-danger should be clearly enforced.  One thing about this story that bothered me was that Mrs. Grizzle was less than encouraging when brother pointed out information in the story that did not add up.  Instead of acknowledging Brother's reasoning, she just referred to his comment as “nerdy”.

Hmm.

The Gingerbread Bear

Here's an adorable story that really began in the introduction, when Mrs. Grizzle helped Brother and Sister in the kitchen making their own gingerbread bears.  She made a much larger gingerbread bear for the next day, but Brother and Sister Bear took their bears to their room for this gingerbread bear inspired story. 

As in most of the stories, Brother and Sister Bear excitedly chimed in until Mrs. Grizzle asked them to lower the voices so that they would not wake sleeping Honey Bear. 

The story followed that of the original story of ‘The Gingerbread Man’ with the gingerbread bear making a fox very happy with a nice treat.  Mrs. Grizzle had noticed that her very vocal cubs had become silent all of the sudden only to find that they could not resist eating their own gingerbread bears when the fox did. 

The Three Billy Goats Gruff Meet The Bogg Brothers

In this version, Brother grew tired of the original story while Sister feared the troll.  After Mrs. Grizzle offered a tweak of the old tale, both Brother and Sister Bear insist she share it. 

In this telling the billy goats were also hoping to cross a bridge to eat the delicious grass on the other side.  Each Billy Goat Gruff offered his brother as a bigger and better meal.  The impatient, unfriendly and not so nice Bogg Brothers wanted to make a meal of each one.  But by the time that the biggest Billy Goat Gruff arrived, he made sure to let the Bogg Brothers know that each of them were a potential meal. 

After carefully making that point, he continued on to join his brothers to eat the grass.

The Little Red Hen

This tale was the cubs' least favorite story. After a particularly hard babysitting day, Mrs. Grizzle's version did not follow the folk tale and displeased both cubs.  The little critics!

While the animals in the story were too eager to help, the hen chose to take on the opposite role in Mrs. Grizzle's version.  She made herself too busy to be available to help.

This Little Red Hen story may be too much of a change for some children and may not be well received.  My son was trying to correct my story line throughout the Berenstain version and seemed to find little enjoyment from it.

Little Red Grizzly Hood

This is the Berenstain Bear version of you-know-what favorite fairy tale. 

The story begins with the telling of a cub who was particularly loved by her dear grandmother.  The cub was given a special cape that became one of her most prized possessions and resulted in the nickname “Little Red Grizzly Hood,” because of her attachment to the gift that she wore. 

After Brother and Sister chimed in about their Halloween costumes, an annoyed Mrs. Grizzle asked if she would be allowed to continue. 

This fairy tale seemed very consistent with the original with minor changes. Instead of ending the story with the negative element of an unpleasant end for the naughty wolf, he instead seemed to understand that, as a result of his behavior, he is not welcome back. 

Mrs. Grizzle told the cubs that her own babysitter had told her this story before kissing them goodnight and turning out the light.

The Berenstain Bears' Big Bedtime Book lets you put a new spin on old tales.

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